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The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is preparing contingency plans to evacuate its staff since ISIL has taken control over large swaths of Iraq, according to a U.S. State Department official.

The U.S. official also mentioned that the U.S. Embassy, United Nations and other foreign organizations with a presence in Iraq are “preparing contingency plans to evacuate employees.” ISIL has seized control of Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah and intends to create an Islamic state across the Iraq-Syria border.

Mortar rounds and rockets have hit Baghdad International Airport and Mosul’s airport has been the target of assault. Iraqi Army forces are conducting military operations in Nineveh and Anbar provinces against the insurgent and terrorist organizations that have occupied those territories. http://www.iraqinews.com/...

WH says "No troops on the ground."

The latest:

10:50 AM PT: BBC… Pelosi:  

Some disquiet among Democrats at the prospect of another chapter for US involvement in Iraq. "War begets war. It's just not a good idea," said Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader.

11:00 AM PT:    Hillary Clinton makes a powerful point that Afghan leadership is watching Iraq today. I think the Taliban is observing #ISIS closely + planning.

11:13 AM PT: The State Department could not confirm the presence of Iranian forces in Iraq, as was reported by the Wall Street Journal, quoting Iranian security sources.

The Journal reports: "Iran has deployed Revolutionary Guard forces to fight militants", that it "has helped Iraqi troops win back control of 85% of Tikrit", that it has massed troops along the border, and that it has "promised to bomb rebel forces if they close within 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, from Iran's border, according to an Iranian army general."

11:31 AM PT: Iraq has no real air power to bolster its cowed army; US Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets are not scheduled to arrive for months. The result is that the US is stuck with the worst of both worlds: a sectarian authoritarian in Maliki whose ultimate military weakness is on display.

A far more decisive response has come from Iran, which is said to be streaming forces into Iraq to bolster their existing networks there. Carney on Thursday declined to urge Iran to stay out of the crisis.

The only note of caution came from the panel's Democratic chairman, Carl Levin: "It’s unclear how air strikes on our part can succeed unless the Iraqi army is willing to fight, and that’s uncertain given the fact that several Iraqi army divisions have melted away."

11:57 AM PT: Oil prices have shot to a three-month high

12:05 PM PT: Officials say three planes of Americans are being evacuated from a major air base to escape potential threats. A current US official and a former senior Obama administration official say that means the American training mission at the air field in Balad has been grounded indefinitely.~Guardian

12:39 PM PT: Good read Juan Cole: H/T cohenzee

http://www.truthdig.com/...

12:46 PM PT: the Guardian's Fazel Hawramy goes on to report:

"What I have seen over the last three days reminded me of the looting in [the Iraqi wars] of 1991 and 2003," said Daban Muhammad, 27, who works in a local restaurant. The previous night, he said, people had made off with armoured vehicles, heavy machinery and US-made Humvees.


http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/

1:04 PM PT: Government workers have been asked to return to work in Mosul.  ISIS has fighters in the streets, but it seems like a lot of the tribal leaders and former Ba'ath officials revolted and joined with ISIS, so as I mentioned in the last live blog, this is really more of a Sunni uprising than an al-Qaeda takeover. It does not appear that there are a lot of killings going on in Mosul. H/T ivorybill, more info in comments.


3:06 PM PT: Iran hinted at intervention,with president Hassan Rouhani saying “We will strongly support Iraq in fighting terrorism." Reports of Iranian forces in Iraq remain unconfirmed.
Reports of a 6,000 strong force nearing Baghdad~ Guardian.
Many reports of fighting and a loud explosion in Baghdad, still no confirmed reports by a trusted source.
Kurdish commanders have defied Baghdad, and a minister survived a bomb blast as the regional government's forces assumed control of the oil-rich city.

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